As the Foundation for Tacoma Students begins to think about “what’s next” for the Graduate Tacoma community movement, I’m inspired by an idea of Collective Recovery. Recovery will be the focus of all of our work as we look at the road ahead, and the approach we take will be a defining moment in history during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a matter of weeks, systems and sectors have had to completely rethink the way they do business and respond quicker than ever before to support the needs of youth and young adults. Now, we are encouraging our community to take stock in our new normal and be deliberate about the redesign that is in front of us.
No longer should we feel obligated to a “business as usual” construct, but rather we should rebuild our systems leading first with targeted universalism and applying equitable practices as we see fit. This is what the future of our work will look like.
The future of the Foundation for Tacoma Students will:
- reimagine a world where systems work for communities of color;
- consider the ways we collaboratively redesign practices that support communities impacted by poverty;
- seek out and realign resources to scale strategies that the Graduate Tacoma movement has successfully implemented; and
- rebuild our community movement to focus first on those who are most marginalized and sequence our targeted efforts to ultimately support all youth and young adults.
Already, the Foundation for Tacoma Students has rapidly responded in the following ways to COVID-19:
- Stood up a community platform for resources in partnership with the Tacoma Urban League – TacomaLearns.org
- Partnered with local internet provider, Rainier Connect, to increase access to high-speed internet to existing partner Tacoma Public Schools’ students and families
- Engaged diverse system leaders and change agents to share real-time information, insights, and learnings during our weekly Friday Forum webinar series
- Established a rapid response table with Degrees of Change, College Success Foundation, Tacoma Public Schools and others to support high school seniors
And currently, the Foundation for Tacoma Students is:
- Fundraising for increased access to technology and internet as we look to the future
- Assessing the ways to deliver unique and diverse summer learning programs that meet social distancing requirements
- Deepening our understanding of the existing childcare crisis, the additional impacts due to COVID-19, and the future of the field
- Supporting efforts to best collect and aggregate local early learning data
- Partnering with statewide organizations in an effort to build a collective advocacy voice for the future
We still have many more challenges ahead and it will be a test of endurance as we confront some of the harder truths about our work. What remains true regardless of crisis or prosperity, though, is that we can only find long-term success through partnership. For that, I am grateful to you and everyone who makes up the Graduate Tacoma community-wide movement.
Tafona Ervin, Ed. D.
Foundation for Tacoma Students